THE BLOG

When I Say I Hate Monogamy, What I Really Mean Is...

12/12/2014 02:26 GMT | Updated 10/02/2015 10:59 GMT

Actually I've never come right out and said I hate monogamy. But through viral articles like 'My Problem with Monogamy', it's easily inferred.

But monogamy is not something I hate, at least certainly not as a form of relationship. I hate that it's more or less an enforced binary structure - to be single and dating, or together and exclusive. I hate that there are plenty of people who don't actively consent to monogamy, who are not happy in monogamy, but through society pressure and lack of information, unwittingly follow the prescribed norm hoping for that illusive happy ever after. I hate that so many monogamous people think I am, and treat me like a second class citizen just for choosing polyamory. I hate that blinded by their own prejudices, they choose not to educate themselves in alternatives or believe me when I say that monogamy is not for me. That they think they know best for me, or view me as someone to be fixed as if the choice to be polyamorous is a problem in my fundamental make up. I hate that the majority of my family views my life as abhorrent even if they accept and mostly ignore that I make my own choices. For all that I miss them, sometimes living in another country is a godsend.... for all of us.

Monogamy is not a person. Monogamy is a relationship configuration and is as such, impossible for me to hate. It's neutral. Monogamists are simply people who adhere to monogamy. Polyamory is also a configuration. So what I really mean is that I dislike some of the actions performed by people who happen to have chosen monogamy. I also dislike some of the actions by people who have chosen polyamory. It's the actions of individuals that I dislike, not the form of a relationship. Actions by people who enforce their choices as standard on others, who treat others like second class citizens, who are unwilling to confront their own flaws through insecurity, who choose willful ignorance and who often justify their position with quite frankly, insulting arguments.

I know several happy couples who are monogamous and are also my very good friends. I don't like or dislike them because they are monogamous. I like them because they treat me with respect. I like them because they discuss with me for hours on end, the complexities of my lifestyle trying to learn what implications my choices might have for them as I learn more about why they choose monogamy. I like them because they teach their kids that freedom, voice and consent is important. I like them because they examine their own motivations for their actions. I like them because they are emotionally grown and we get to discuss deep, personal vulnerability without judgement or attack. I like them because they are open to change.

When you first enter into the world of polyamory, you meet many people who have thought carefully about issues like gender, break-up, sexuality and conflict. Issues which are important to me. You meet people who have had to develop relationship skills, simply because they have more complex relationships. In general, polyamorous people have been forced to consider these things much more than your average monogamous person because they're questioned about it, time after time. But it's not because they are evolved or enlightened. It's because they have been led to question their own inclinations which go against what they have been taught and the values they have inherited. Without some opinion on the matter they are vulnerable. And I like that they've thought about it.

But people whether monogamists or polyamorists, have a curious need to jump on bandwagons. To use black and white generalizations. To brandish arms against others who hold different opinions because they feel they are a threat to their own. I consider myself an activist within the polyamorous community (if activism is indeed, sitting at my desk writing about it). And yet, there are some activists who elevate polyamory by bashing monogamy. I don't like that.

I dislike even more, that I've done it myself.

In preparing the second edition of my book 'The Husband Swap' for publication, it occurred to me that there were plenty of lessons in it to be learned about 'how we did' polyamory the first time around, but far, far more about how I could grow as a person. It's not a mistake to admit you make mistakes. Because how else do we learn? Don't box yourself in because you once said something you think you can't go back on. Mistakes and learning from them is part of our humanity. And falling down the rabbit hole of life means there are many to be made.

When the pendulum has swung one way for so long, it swings the other way first. Polyamory for me meant love and limitless possibilities. It meant giving people the freedom to choose what was best for them and the freedom to make their own mistakes. It was difficult not to idealize the choice and even more difficult not to put those who had chosen it on a pedestal. But in time I came to realize that I was doing to monogamists exactly what they did to me. I was vilifying them for their relationship choice albeit usually by passive sub-text. And that was a mistake. It taught me that even though I loved outside the box... I had let it become simply another box.

'Lessons to My Younger Self', A companion guide to 'The Husband Swap' will be published as an eBook by Thorntree Press in April 2015.